The Caregiver Oracle | Photo: Courtesy

It was fitting that I was given The Caregiver Oracle, a deck of 45 cards designed by nurse Jennifer Bower and filled with intuitive self-care guidance, during my last week of teaching middle school before summer. Each card in the deck contains a beautiful illustration; a title, such as “Fierce Presence”; and keywords to help people tap into what they need. There’s also a guidebook that contains practical ideas for applying the card’s suggestion to one’s own life, as well as journaling prompts. These cards are the perfect tool to easily work into life, whether you’re in a caregiving profession or just looking to take better care of yourself. 

The Caregiver Oracle  | Photo: Courtesy

As a nurse for more than 20 years, working in acute care at Cottage Hospital for more than 15 years, and now a school nurse at the Riviera Ridge School, a position she took on during the pandemic (and where I also teach), Bower has a keen understanding of the importance of taking care of oneself in order to be able to show up for others. When her brother passed away unexpectedly eight years ago, she dove into a deep exploration of various healing modalities. 

“I started to look for ways that I could heal from that and find a sense of peace with it,” Bower said. “I joined some women’s circles around town and tried to tap into my spirituality. I realized that there is a whole landscape of ways to connect to yourself out there.”

Bower began taking part in tarot card readings and finding strength in the community and spirituality these rituals provided. Bower’s oracle cards differ from tarot in that they do not follow a specific structure. Bower also clarifies that “it’s not an outside source; you are the source of all the information.”

Bower worked with an artist to create each illustration, which is full of whimsical, nature-inspired imagery to prompt one’s inner knowing.

“You’re the one who has all of the answers inside, and the deck is a tool,” Bower explained. “I like to think of it as a mirror. It reflects back to you the answers you already know, but sometimes you’re too afraid to see them.”

I enjoyed the freedom to tap into my own sense of needs based on the card’s imagery and words. However, for practicality’s sake, I greatly appreciated the guidebook, which is full of essential tips for caring for oneself that we often forget about, such as drinking some water, going for a walk, going in nature, or meditating. These may seem simple, but in our busy lives, sometimes it takes a ritual like this deck to remind us to ask ourselves what we need.

“When you really do have your cup filled, you can continue to give your gift to the world without feelings of burnout and resentment that can come when you over-give,” Bower said. 

“I just really hope that it gets into the hands of people who can really utilize it,” Bower said.

The Caregiver Oracle cards  | Photo: Courtesy

While I turned to the deck during that last hectic week of the school year, I’m even more excited to spend some time with it over the summer, fully integrating the tools, so that I’m best equipped to continue to give. As Bower says, “Self-care is not selfish; it is essential.”

The Caregiver Oracle deck is available for purchase at Paradise Found in Downtown Santa Barbara and on Shopify.

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